Things have come full circle for D’Angelo Russell as the team that drafted him, the Los Angeles Lakers, acquired him at the trade deadline in a blockbuster three-team trade involving the Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz.
Russell played his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers after being drafted second overall in 2015 out of Ohio State. He was later traded to the Brooklyn Nets and has since bounced around a bit, playing with the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves.
The 26-year-old returns to the Lakers much more mature than when he left, hoping to help this organization get back on track.
During his re-introductory press conference, Russell was asked what he remembers when he reflects on his first tenure with the team and his answer was Kobe Bryant:
“When I reflect on my time in the past, it’s all Kobe. All Kobe. I’ve had some growing pains when I’ve played on the court but all of that was really a blur. Appreciating Kobe when I was here wasn’t something that I really did because I was young and kind of figuring it out. But as soon as I left, I appreciated him more. Not that he’s gone, I appreciate him even more. So when I reflect on that Lakers tenure when I was here, it’s all a reflection of him.”
Russell’s rookie season was Bryant’s final with the Lakers, which had to have brought some awesome memories for the former, especially getting to share the court with the latter in his final game.
Now that he’s back, Russell expressed appreciation to be playing for the franchise where it all started for him again:
“A lot has happened since I’ve been here, right? I’ve been an All-Star, went to the playoffs. I’ve done a lot of things individually so to come back with that resume, I feel like it only helps the team and whatnot. Going back to what you said, I never hoped to be back here because I didn’t understand if I could be ready for it and be a part of what they were doing for the future. You never know what the team is gonna look like so it’s hard to find stability in that. But I’m here now and I really appreciate being back because I feel like I’m ready for everything that’s about to come for the team and whatever comes my way.”
Russell is in the midst of a very strong season, averaging 17.9 points and 6.2 assists while shooting career-highs from the field (46.5%) and 3-point range (39.1%).
That type of shooting is exactly what the Lakers need, and it will undoubtedly complement the team’s current star in LeBron James and Anthony Davis well, much like it did Bryant in their one year playing together.
Vanderbilt believes he will complement James and Davis well
Another piece the Lakers got in the trade, Jarred Vanderbilt, should also complement James and Davis well and said as such in his own introductory press conference.
He will do it in a much different way than Russell though, using his size and length to help defensively and on the glass.
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